daily dispatches from the management vanguard
Why Don't IT Departments Give Employees More Freedom?
Do you feel hamstrung by your company’s IT policies? Are the IT tools you have at home more up-to-date than ones you’re forced to use at work? Do you wish you had more control over your IT environment at work? If so, you’re not alone.
A while back in the Wall Street Journal, Nick Wingfield dared to question the totalitarian policies of the average corporate IT department–and boy-oh-boy does he make some good points.
How is it that employees can be trusted to take care of important customers, safeguard expensive equipment and stay within their budgets, but can’t be trusted to use the Web at work, choose their own IT tools, or download programs onto the workplace PCs? Do IT staffers really believe that conscientious, committed employees turn into crazed, malicious hackers when you give them a bit of freedom over their IT environment? Or are the nerds in IT all secret control freaks—the sort of folks who alphabetize their DVD collections and have separate drawers for different-colored socks and put on protective clothing before pounding a nail? Either way, if they had the budget, they’d probably hire hall monitors.
Some IT folks might argue in their defense that standardization helps to keep IT costs down—but so would having only one item on the menu in the corporate canteen. If leading edge IT tools are, as many claim, essential to unleashing human creativity, why would any company force all of its employees to use the same computers, phones and software programs? This makes no more sense than forcing every painter in the world to use the same 24 by 36-inch canvas and No. 8 paint brush, irrespective of the scale and style of the particular painting. Sadly, though, this sort of logic doesn’t cut much ice with bureaucrats, who will always vote for control over freedom—after all, if you actually trusted people to make wise choices, bureaucrats wouldn’t have much to do. Nevertheless, IT professionals need to spend less time trying to enforce technology standards and more time trying to make sure that every employee has access to the world’s best tools.